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People Power Can Stop the Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline in Minnesota

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People Power Can Stop the Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline in Minnesota
A protest march against the Line 3 pipeline in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 18, 2018. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

By Collin Rees

We know that people power can stop dangerous fossil fuel projects like the proposed Line 3 tar sands oil pipeline in Minnesota, because we've proved it over and over again — and recently we've had two more big wins.


In Oregon, a powerful coalition of tribes, landowners and activists has been resisting the proposed Jordan Cove LNG and Pacific Connector pipeline project for years, pressuring Oregon's Gov. Kate Brown to block the project. Earlier this month, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality denied a crucial water permit for the huge fracked gas project, dealing it a "potentially fatal blow," in the words of the coalition.

This was followed by a major win in New York last week, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration denied a water permit for the Northeast Supply Enhancement gas pipeline, better known as the "Williams Pipeline." The rejection of this permit follows a string of important victories for the anti-pipeline movement in New York, sends Williams back to the drawing board, and increases pressure on New Jersey's Gov. Phil Murphy to deny permits for that state's section of the fracked gas pipeline.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have the chance to show the same kind of real leadership by strongly opposing the massive Line 3 tar sands pipeline that would threaten Minnesota's water, impose on treaty rights and wreck the climate. But they're not going to take action without hearing from thousands of people from all corners of Minnesota and from across the country.

In April, Donald Trump signed two executive orders aimed at gutting clean water protections, silencing people's voices and making it easier for fossil fuel companies to build dangerous pipelines like Line 3. These executive orders and the big win in Oregon are clear signs that our strategy is working. Nationwide, people-powered resistance is raising the bar for climate leadership and keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

Photo credit: Emma Fiala

The Line 3 pipeline would cross over 200 bodies of water in Minnesota, including two crossings of the iconic Mississippi River. Allowing Line 3 to move forward would put Indigenous rights, precious water and the climate at deadly risk. Pipeline owner Enbridge wants to force Line 3 from Alberta to Wisconsin through the sacred wild rice beds and treaty territory of the Anishinaabe people, crossing multiple Canadian provinces and three U.S. states.

Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan have shown willingness to question Line 3's permits before, but they've yet to take a definitive stand against the pipeline and commit to stopping it. Walz has said that Line 3 needs a "social permit" in order to be built — so now it's the job of the indigenous and climate justice movements to make it clear that the public is strongly opposed to this tar sands project.

Thousands of people have already signed petitions, made calls to the governor's office, and shown up in person to urge Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan to "#StopLine3" since they took office earlier this year, but more pressure is still needed. Oil Change is joining local partners in Minnesota and other national groups to make one thing very clear: Climate leadership in Minnesota means that Line 3 must be canceled for good.

Click here to send a message to Minnesota's leaders — Line 3 must never be built, and real leadership means standing with the people against Big Oil's dirty tar sands.

In light of reports on what's needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, preventing tar sands oil from being extracted and burned is more crucial than ever. Our new report on U.S. extraction, released in January, makes it clear that continued oil and gas production could wreck the world's chances of achieving climate goals. It's time for a rapid and just phase-out of fossil fuel extraction if we're going to meet these goals, and that starts with rejecting dirty projects of the past like Line 3, and investing in real, community-led solution for a clean-energy future that respects Indigenous rights and Mother Earth.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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